Local News

R-word coming to a theater near you

Posted August 12, 2008
Updated August 13, 2008

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Special Olympics North Carolina, The Arc of North Carolina and five other groups across the state that advocate for disabled people have joined to speak out against DreamWorks' new film, “Tropic Thunder.” The film features the prominent use of the "R-word" (retard).

"I heard they use the R-word in the movie. That's not right at all,” Special Olympics athlete Matthew Carpenter said.

"Tropic Thunder" is a comedy directed by Ben Stiller. It focuses on a group of actors shooting a war movie.

Keith Fishburne, president and CEO of Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC), admitted Tuesday evening that he has not seen the film, but says he has seen excerpts of the script that use the R-word.

"There were scenes in it that were very derogatory and negative towards people with intellectual disabilities,” he said.

When the movie opened Monday night in Los Angeles, many people protested.

Stiller said the movie is not intended to hurt anybody's feelings.

"I think we were clear about what our intention was in the movie and where the humor was coming from, and I feel like that's clear in the context of the movie,” he said.

Matthew Carpenter's mom, Jill, says she has seen the hurt the R-word can cause.

"I have seen them slide down in their chairs. I have seen them get tears. They know what that word means,” she said.

“Labeling and humiliating others is unacceptable in this day and age,”  Fishburne added.

Jill Carpenter said she wants an apology from the filmmakers and the movie not to be shown.

Matthew Carpenter just wants the R-word to go away, he said.

"It just hurts people's feelings,” Jill Carpenter said.

Late Tuesday, a spokesperson from DreamWorks Pictures released a statement to WRAL News:

“’Tropic Thunder’ is an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the top characters in ridiculous situations. The film is in no way meant to disparage or harm the image of individuals with disabilities.

“We have had productive discussions with representatives of disability-advocacy organizations and look forward to working with them closely in the future. However no changes or cuts to the film will be made.”

In response to the movie, the Special Olympics has launched the R-word campaign. It aims to reach people who may not understand the impact of the R-word and to stop its use.

“Tropic Thunder" opens Wednesday and is rated R.

109 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • NeverSurrender Aug 14, 2008

    "Travised, I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of that. The bullying you experienced is inexcusable, and the teachers in your school should have stepped in and stopped it. I'm a former teacher, and never tolerated the "R" word in my presence. It (and other derrogatory words) was the fastest ticket to ISS from my classroom."

    ---

    Now, how many of your colleagues would similarly enforce the rules governing bullying and abusive behaviour toward other students knowing full well that they can expect either their administration, the parent, or both to be upset at them?

    One learnt very quickly that for the most part, you were pretty much on your own when it came to dealing with antisocial behaviour from other students unless they actually physically accosted you.

    The teachers weren't at all interested in the chewing out they'd get for anything less than that.

  • carolinamom5 Aug 13, 2008

    Travised, I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of that. The bullying you experienced is inexcusable, and the teachers in your school should have stepped in and stopped it. I'm a former teacher, and never tolerated the "R" word in my presence. It (and other derrogatory words) was the fastest ticket to ISS from my classroom. Congratulations on becoming a strong person in spite of your torment. Only those who have truly been hurt by this word can truly comprehend the pain it can cause. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Travised Aug 13, 2008

    Carolina mom, and Lady blue made two good points of the issue.

    I was one who was called those terms by the students due to brain surgery. It wasn't fun, but I learned to ignore it over the years. The students didn't stop the torment with words, and physical up til high school. However the words don't matter anything to me now after all the years of torment.

  • gohawks Aug 13, 2008

    Oh Please, give me a break. I call my dog a retard all of the time. And he still loves me. :)

    Are we talking about dogs? No, people. Until you have a child that is called this.... I don't think you know.

  • jkca Aug 13, 2008

    Oh Please, give me a break. I call my dog a retard all of the time. And he still loves me. :)

  • Scarecrow Cow Aug 13, 2008

    It was a hilarious movie, and I don't think it was offensive at all. These people are taking it way out of context and way too seriously, but if they refuse to see the movie I guess they'll never figure that out. Anyone who refuses to see this film is missing out - I think it deserves 3 1/2 stars.

  • readme Aug 13, 2008

    This is going WAY overboard. This is rediculous censsorship attempts, and slandering a movie that is might be good on other merits. Do these people think I am so stupid (or retarded :) that I can't watch a movie with the R word and still respect people with "intellectual disabilities"? I have seen hundreds of movies that use the N word and the F word and all the words. People need to get over themselves. People that get offended easily offend me.

  • RaleighMan Aug 13, 2008

    It's a good thing all you folks offended by the thought of this movie don't stay up late enough to catch re-runs of "Blazing Saddles" on TBS!

  • sketch Aug 13, 2008

    one more piece of evidence for my "nation of whiners,complainers,cry babies,overly sensitive,embarassing united states" file. :)

  • jon2four Aug 13, 2008

    It not the meaning of a word that offends but as Bill Clinton tried to say, the contexts in which it is used. The R-word is a perfectly legitimate if used in the right context.For instance; I need to retard the timing on my car.But when used to degrade or deminish ones character or to cause hurt or to insinuate soneone is not up to speed in their mental capacity,in those instances it is wrong and shows ignorance and intolerance on the part of the users.

More...